You can scan, print and frame old family photos, giving them new life for a history wall.

Displaying Photos on Stairs

by Anya Deason

Long and often tall, stairway walls give you the opportunity to hang photo groupings that showcase your family's history, while also reflecting your decor style preferences. Between kids' activities and work, strategic stairway picture hanging might fall low on your list of things to do. However, if you set aside a little time, you can enjoy the rewards of thoughtful photo groupings each time you travel up your stairwell. Many of today's homes include high ceilings, so the visibility of stairwell photos often extends into adjacent rooms.

1. History Wall

History walls benefit from random-looking photo placement, which suggests the branches of a family tree burgeoning outward. It's helpful when photo groupings don't involve extensive measurement, which is hard to do between fixing dinner, helping with homework and working. Your ancestors led simpler lives, and these may have been captured in subtler photographic tones. Greenish-silver frames correspond with subtle, green-gray tones in old photos, as does a greenish, brushed nickel light fixture. Antique-gold frames correspond with reddish, sepia-toned photos, taupe stairway walls and taupe carpeting.

2. Black and White Asymmetrical Grouping

An asymmetrical black-and-white photo grouping works in a stairwell with warm light-colored walls that opens into a den with a high ceiling. Black-and-white photos have a sleek, modern look when framed in black, and a consistent frame style unifies the grouping. Interest is added by interspersing larger photos with tiny photos that feature weighted mats, which are much bigger at the bottom than on the top and sides. Black frames make a connection with black pendant lights and a modern, black sectional in an adjacent room, while a large pewter mirror at the top of the stairs blends with warm gray or cream walls.

3. Canvas-Mounted Triads

Unglazed, canvas-mounted photos in different widths and styles form dynamic stairway photo triads. Consider distressed, dark bronze frames for sepia-toned or colored photos, especially for rustic stairwells, where the frames' dark finishes correspond with dark-beamed ceilings. In each triad, include a 9-by-12 family portrait and an 8-by-10 individual portrait in simple, distressed bronze frames, arranged in a staggered manner. In the space formed at the top right, hang a small canvas-mounted photo in an oversized, ornate bronze frame, which will automatically draw attention.

4. Stepped Multi-Opening Arrangement

Vertical or horizontal frames with multi-opening mats let you display family photos at regular intervals along your stairway. Consider an upward progression of horizontal, multi-openings mats. The frames' horizontal format echoes rectangular stair shapes, while the mats provide an opportunity to chart each child's chronological growth within one frame. Orange-brown wood frames relate to wood tones on stairs, while blending well with neutral mats. If turn-buttons are attached to the backs of the frames, it's easier to exchange photos as your child grows.

About the Author

Based in Franklin, Tenn., Anya Deason has more than 15 years of decor-related experience, assisting leading interior designers and owning a custom frame shop. While working at Lyzon Gallery in 1999, she wrote descriptions of artwork for Sotheby's online auctions. Deason holds a Bachelor of Science from Tennessee Technological University.

Photo Credits

  • Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images